Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Hunger Games: a review

So we saw The Hunger Games last night. My short review: Don't bother. I haven't read Suzanne Collins novel, so I can't tell you how true the movie is to it, but as a movie The Hunger Games makes no sense. I'm guessing that since the 7PM show on Saturday night wasn't sold out, word-of-mouth isn't that great. Unless you've been hiding in a cave or on vacation on Mars, you know the basic story. Once a year each of the 12 districts that make up the nation of Panem sends two teens (one boy & one girl) selected by lottery to a fight to the death - historically only one gladiator survives - which is shown on television. It's sort of a modern electronic version of the ancient Roman arena. As soon as 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to replace her younger sister, Primrose, and a young man, Peeta Mellark, who has a crush on her, is chosen you will know almost everything that will happen over the next two + hours. Besides Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) all the other combatants are nameless figures that Katniss and Peeta have to hurdle to get to the end. The one exception is Rue (Amandia Stenburg), a young Black contestant who befriends Katniss at a crucial point in the contest.

The adults - except for the seemingly evil President Snow (Donald Sutherland) and Cinna, one of Katniss and Peeta's advisors (Lenny Kravits) - are basically clowns and not very funny ones at that. They just keep repeating the same shtick from beginning to end.

My editor (Ann) reminds me to mention the always delightful Woody Harrelson who plays Haymitch Abernathy, a former winning gladiator, who is now Katniss and Peeta's other advisor. Despite being an alchohic he plays a crucial role in assisting her through post-modern technology with things like salve to heal serious wounds. Harrelson does a wonderful job with this complex character.

Perhaps the theme of this movie should be "young love conquers all" or at least, the appearance of young love conquers gullible adults.

When the basic story is first introduced it is quite horrific, but unfortunately you become a bit inured to the horror of the idea and participate as part of the TV audience and root for Katniss to win and stay alive (since you know there are two more Hunger Games novels in which she continues to be the main character this seems like a pretty safe bet). The fate of Peeta is perhaps a bit less predictable for a while.

Panem seemingly has replaced the U.S. and its different regions fair well or badly depending where they are located. District 12, which is in the Appalachian coal mining area is the poorest. There are references to hunger but none if the teens looks like they've missed a meal.

At the beginning of the film there is another young man, Gale Hawthorne (Liam Hemsworrh) who seems to have a relationship with Katniss, but who disappears for most of the movie. But I suspect the triangle of Peeta, Gale and Katniss will reemerge in volume two (and given the money it's already made, this movie's sequel).

I have read in various places that the novels have political meaning, but it seems to me that - except for the obvious that the rich and powerful starve the poor to further enrich themselves and provide spectacles to distract the masses - there is very little else to enlighten even the most politically naive American.

One last thought. I fell in love with Jennifer Lawrence when we saw Winter's Bone in which she plays an equally intrepid female character. Of course, there she played against a real story and interesting characters, not the cardboard cut outs of The Hunger Games. So if there is any reason to see this movie it's Katniss Everdeen, who proves that brains and skill trump foolish arrogance every time, and Jennifer Lawrence, who I hope will soon display a wider range of her talents. Although I haven't seen her turn as Mystique in X-Men: First Class I suspect that's not much different, except that it's a villainous character rather than the hero of Winter's Bone and The Hunger Games.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Who presumed Trayvon's innocence?

When reading a letter in today's Daily News (3/30/12) from Gary Schmitt of Glen Cove, L.I. which says, in part, "George Zimmerman may have been acting in self-defense, and that doesn't require Trayvon Martin to have had his own weapon. Until Zimmerman is charged and convicted he should be presumed innocent," I couldn't help wondering if Zimmerman (or anyone else) presumed Trayvon's innocence."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"Out of Afghanistan"

"The murder in Panjwai of sixteen civilians, including nine children, by an American soldier on March 11 puts an exclamation point on ten and a half years of failed war in Afghanistan.
(The Nation editorial, 4/2/12)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Tin Man finally gets a heart

It's good to learn that the Tin Man finally got a heart. If it had happened right after 9/11, perhaps we wouldn't have invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. But it would probably require a brain-transplant as well to see the world as actually inhabited by human beings who also have hearts & minds.

This week in the War on Women: How about electing more, better women?

The Republican/Tea Party war on women's health may turn this election around, if the Dems can take advantage of it. As always a big 

This week in the War on Women: How about electing more, better women?

Friday, March 16, 2012

George Clooney arrested protesting human rights violations in the Sudan

George Clooney, his dad (Nick), NAACP Pres. Ben Jealous & Va. Rep. Jim Moran were arrested for crossing a police line at the Sudanese embassy in D.C. to protest human-rights abuses in the sudan.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

March 24: 12:30-2:30 PM: March & Vigil for Peace and Economic Justice To Mourn and Resist the Ravages of War

March & Vigil for Peace and Economic Justice - begins with March of the Dead mourning and resisting the ravages of war in commemoration of ninth anniversary of war in Iraq

Saturday, March 24, 2012 - 12:30pm - 2:30pm
Intersection Rt. 112 (Main Street) and Rt. 25A (blinking light, across from ferry) in Port Jefferson Village, LI [1], 631-331-3419

March & Vigil for Peace and Economic Justice To Mourn and Resist the Ravages of War

Participants dressed in black with identical white face masks will lead a "March of the Dead" lamenting and resisting nine years of war in Iraq and 10-plus years of war in Afghanistan

Speakers to include
Mac Bica of Veterans for Peace LI;
Lauren Carmichael of Occupy Port Jefferson;
Charlotte Koons of Code Pink LI;
Bill McNulty of North Country Peace Group;
and Greg Maney of LI Teachers for Human Rights.

Sponsored by the North Country Peace Group and endorsed by more than a dozen Long Island peace, justice, religious and Occupy groups,
the March will begin at the intersection of Rt. 112 (Main Street) and Rt. 25A (across from the ferry) in Port Jefferson. We will march through the village to a public park nearby, where a program featuring speakers, music, and the reading of the names of Long Island service members killed in Iraq and Afghanistan will take place.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Rush to get women back under the male boot

Although it's obviously clear, as Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke testified, that birth control pills are crucial ingredients of women's health care, their widespread availability has also been an important aspect of the struggle for women's liberation from male domination. According to Nancy L. Cohen (Delirium: How the Sexual Counterrevolution is Polarizing America):
Enovid, the first birth control Pill, went on the market in 1960. Unlike any other previously available form of contraception, the Pill was both reliable and controlled by a woman herself, requiring neither the consent nor the knowledge of her sexual partner. .... The Pill made possible the sexual revolution of the 1960s. .... ...with the impetus the sexual revolution gave to a new feminism and a movement for gay liberation, it became one of the major catalysts of America's ongoing political delirium.
It's the challenge to male domination that not only provoked Rush Limbaugh's conniption last week but also the recent outbursts of a number of male religious honchos. (see photo of Issa birth-control hearing) There have been many aspects to male domination over the ages but control of the reproductive process has always been key. And when birth control shifted into women's hands, genuine equality between the genders became a real possibility. Women could for the first time really decide whether and when they would get pregnant. In other words, they finally could control their own lives - both at work and at home. Women's Liberation, not religious freedom, is at the center of the current brouhaha over birth control. The very language Limbaugh used in his diatribes - "slut" & "prostitute" - has historically been used to label any woman who stands up for women's rights to get her back under the male boot.

What These Popular Republican Phrases Really Mean

This should help clarify the current political debate (or not)

What These Popular Republican Phrases Really Mean

Friday, March 02, 2012

Fox News "fair & balanced" (LOL) Ignores Limbaugh Controversy

Fox News Ignores Limbaugh Controversy: pFox News devoted just a single segment to the escalating controversy surrounding Rush Limbaugh’s vicious attacks on Sanda Fluke, the Georgetown Law student whom Republicans wouldn’t let testify during a hearing on birth control, largely ignoring the controversy. The only mention over the past two days, according a search of a media monitoring service, was [...]/p

What Are Iran's Intentions? by Noam Chomsky (Truthout)

What Are Iran's Intentions? | Truthout

War on women's health: Sandra Fluke, called ’slut’ by Limbaugh, is ’stunned, outraged’

Has Rush Limbaugh, propagandist for the War on Women's Health, gone too far this time? There is a Twitter campaign to convince advertisers to pull out of the Rush Limbaugh show. I'm sorry that Sandra Fluke has been hurt by Limbaugh's comments. I think she should be proud. It's kind of like being on Richard Nixon's "Enemies List." it's something about which to be proud. Fluke should wear a t-shirt that says: "Rush Limbaugh called me a whore; is that the pot calling the kettle black?" Limbaugh is a clown and the best we can do is to, let him go on exposing himself & the rest of the right-wing fools with him. Woman called ’slut’ by Limbaugh is ’stunned, outraged’

Thursday, March 01, 2012

WikiLeaks: DHS Monitored Occupy Wall Street

If you've been wondering what the future of peaceful protest will be in the U.S., try this on for size. Less than a month after it's inception, OWL was designated "a significant problem for law enforcement" by Homeland Security. The U.S. Government is clearly throwing the Constitutional baby out with the "terrorism" bath water. The right to peaceably assemble & Freedom of Speech may soon be relics of the past. (Unless they are gone already)

WikiLeaks: DHS Monitored Occupy Wall Street